How to make maternity cover child’s play


Last month, I received a call from one of my favourite clients; Sarah –  in a bit of a panic “Help I need a temp!?”

BTG have known Sarah for many years; from when she began her finance career 9 years ago as an AAT, studying purchase ledger clerk, all the way up to Financial Controller of a large American owned organisation with dramatically increasing turnover. Sarah had successfully built up a world class finance team of 6 and was looking ahead to a steady future; her manager is impressed with her and she has a career plan to take over as Finance Director within the next 5 years.

So why was she in a panic?

One of the ladies in Sarah’s team had announced that she was pregnant! Sarah was so pleased for her; she had offered to organise the baby shower and was really excited about the new arrival but then it dawned on her… How do I deliver what is expected of me and the team without a key member of staff? How do I get the right sort of cover? How do I cope not knowing if/when she will come back?

Sarah knew that BTG Recruitment and the Interim recruitment team have dealt with 100s of maternity leaves over the years – (61% of our Fixed Term contracts are due to maternity leave.) hence her call.
Firstly I worked through options with Sarah to see what the right option was for her and her team – did she even need a temp at all?


• Up skilling someone in your team (if there is somebody suitable); this could help motivate the existing team and you would retain the knowledge after the maternity leave, back filling this candidate with an Interim.

• Is the business growing? This could be the opportunity to take on a new permanent member of staff, when the lady returns to her job there would be enough work load for both of them (note – it is a legal requirement to keep her role open see

• You may not need to take on a temp at all if your team and capacity have the skill set to take on the duties – but remember to think about this from their perspective – would they consider it development or a hindrance? E.g. a purchase ledger clerk may love to get involved in management accounts, where as a financial accountant may find this a hindrance.

• Could you use an extra pair of hands to help with anything else in the business? E.g. could you get a more senior experienced Interim to cover the maternity leave whilst reviewing the I.T. system or helping with a merger or helping obtain bank funding?

• Taking an Interim candidate of the same calibre to cover

If you decide to take on a contractor there are 2 key things to consider:

• Decide on the outcome and then choose the correct classification of temp accordingly

Could you offer the candidate a permanent role at the end of the contract? Would you be happy to have a couple of different Interim people over the duration of contract or would you want the same candidate to see the role through to the end?

Think about the end result first and then choose the Interim candidate accordingly, ensuring you correctly classify your temporary candidate (see the section about correctly classifying your temp in my blog ‘Help my temp has left’). Maternity cover is where this categorising is so important! Selecting the wrong type of candidate could result in your maternity leave lady going and the candidate throwing in the towel for something closer to home or permanent after a couple of weeks, leaving you with nobody (yes I have seen this happen before!).

If you hire a professional Interim then offer them a permanent job at the end of the assignment, don’t be surprised that they are put off and don’t accept the permanent offer if they’re a career contractor.

• Fixed term contract vs Day rate

A Fixed term contract is the use of a temporary member of staff for a fixed period of time e.g. 9 months or 12 months. The candidate is normally paid on a monthly basis on your payroll. This offers the candidate stability; some clients say it makes the candidate feel more like ‘a part of the team’ as they will be on the monthly payroll along with everyone else.

Day or hourly rate offers you more flexibility; you only pay for the candidate when you use them so you may have them for 9 months and 3 weeks or 13 months etc, sometimes even part time when the maternity leave lady returns. Day rate contracts often attract the ‘professional Interim’ who will commit to see the role through in its entirety.

Note: Whichever you choose may limit the candidates available e.g. some candidates will only work on a day rate through their own limited company due to tax benefits. Other candidates will look at a long term contract but don’t want to do ‘temping’. Again please refer to my blog about correctly categorising your Interim staff.

We have successfully recruited an Interim specialist for Sarah that allowed her and her team to achieve their goals. She told me she found this basic information a great starting point to help her deicide what the appropriate solution was for her. I wanted to share this with people in the hope of helping someone else in the future!

If you are celebrating a colleague going on maternity, let us know and we will enter them in a free prize draw to win a Baby Cake. Just email me your company name and we will enter you in the draw.

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